And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:11-19)The lectionary reading for today presents us with part of Jesus' high priestly prayer that he prayed for his disciples on the night before he went to the cross. This prayer reveals much about Jesus' deepest concerns. One of those concerns was for the protection of his disciples.
Jesus' first disciples certainly needed the Father's protection, and so do we. We need his protection from two formidable foes mentioned here: the world system that is set against God, and the devil.
The case of judas shows us just how powerful the devil can be. However, it is not as though some of us are doomed to destruction and therefore can do nothing about it. I disagree with the New Revised Standard translation at this point. The words translated as "the one destined to be lost" literally mean "son of perdition" or "son of destruction". These words can refer to Judas' character or his destiny. However, I see nothing in these verses to suggest that Judas was "destined to be lost". On the contrary, Judas by his own choice removed himself from Jesus' protection. That is never safe to do. As someone once said:
Sow an act and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character.
Sow a character and you reap a destiny.
The world and the devil are constantly trying to shape our characters and thus our destiny by influencing our acts and training our habits to go down the wrong road. Thankfully, Jesus prays for our protection, otherwise we would never get on the right road in the first place, let alone remain on it. The only thing that can protect us from the influences of the world and the devil is the power of Jesus' name.
God's name represents his character. His name, Yahweh, means: "I am". He is the self-existent one. He is the one from whom all existence derives its power. Furthermore, God the Father has shared that name with Jesus, for the name "Jesus" means "Yahweh saves".
Corrie ten Boom used to say that when we pray we should plead for the Lord to cover us with two things: the power of Jesus' name and the grace of Jesus' blood.